A great new Microsoft Syntex update has recently become available to allow you to annotate documents in SharePoint. When the file is opened from SharePoint staff can draw and highlight various parts of the document. This allows users to collaborate on files with others by annotating i.e. highlight key sections/values. A key point to note here is that the actual document is not modified and an additional copy of the document is not made. So the document integrity it retained i.e. modified timestamps. Universal annotation is currently available if you have a Syntex per user licence and I think it is only currently available for .PDF and .TIFF files.

Testing out Syntex Universal Annotation

I will now show you how Syntex Universal Annotation can be used. A user goes to a SharePoint document library where there are PDF or TIFF files and clicks one of those files to preview the document.

The document is then displayed in the preview viewer and notice there is a new annotate button with a pen icon. Click this to access the new universal annotation feature.

You will notice a new panel is displayed on the left hand side for universal annotation. This contains the pens and erasers needed for universal annotation

Here is a close up of the panel:

  • At the top in position one is the a mouse cursor icon to allow the user to exit out of annotation screen and return to reviewing just the document text.
  • Position two is a pen to allow users to draw a solid line on the document.
  • Position three is a highlighter to allow users to highlight text with transparency so users can see the text/graphic underneath that has been highlighted.
  • Position four is an eraser to allow users to erase(undo) any highlighting or pen they’ve added to the document.

There is also have the ability by double clicking the pen or highlighter to bring up a further configuration screen. This allows the thickness and colour of the pen/highlight to be changed.

Here is my completed annotated document – apologies for my LACK of artistic skills – it is no Picasso haha! I did not have a stylus pen to hand so had to draw these with my mouse 🙂

The annotations are saved I believe to a seperate reference file somewhere so the original document is not modified. Below we can see the timestamps for my document are still December 2022 so have not changed.


Universal Annotation is a great new feature and great for working together with others on documents. Highlighting the key/important points for the other person to pick up and action. All of this within a document library so no need for staff to physically print/manually annotate documents or the need for seperate applications to add annotations i.e. Adobe Reader.

I can see the new universal annotation functionality being very useful for Teams working together on proposals, preparing reports or even processing invoices etc. A lot of staff will also have a touch screen device these days (laptops, tablets, phones etc) so will be able to add annotations whilst on the move from a multitude of devices. I’m excited to show Universal Annotation to others and raise awareness.

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